Offroad luxury anyone?

Offroad luxury anyone?

Tony Meredith

The offroad market continues to boom and with it comes an evermore bewildering choice of 4x4s that would confuse even the hardiest of men … and women. And for those of you already in despair, be warned that more new releases are on the horizon.

Not only did the launch of the Lexus RX300 in 1998 help to spawn what is known as the luxury sports utility segment, but the model itself sold more than 500,000 units worldwide. Last year the Toyota-owned company launched the latest version which, it claims, has made a “quantum leap in safety, driving dynamics and refinement.”

I had to find out for myself whether these claims were true–especially as Lexus hopes to sell 4000 RX300s in the UK this year.

From the outside I would have to say that the RX300 certainly exudes a sports feel. But luxury is something that is harder to convey by the mere presence of metal and rubber. Not that there is anything wrong with the RX300’s styling. Its haunched look and aerodynamic lines have helped improve its top speed from 112mph to 124mph.

Inside there’s plenty for the luxury seeker to get excited about including heated leather seats with electric adjustment controls. The centre console is packed with switches to play with and also features a monitor for the reversing camera.

A high seating position gives excellent visibility and rear passenger space is good too thanks to the 100mm longer wheelbase.

The 3.0-litre has an increased capacity of 201bhp while a new five speed automatic transmission with sequential gearchange gives a smooth performance. And the torque distribution between the front and rear axles is now controlled electronically by the traction control system instead of the mechanical control of the outgoing model.

If you want a luxury offroader with a sporty look, then you really have to take a peek at the RX300. I’m sure that its overall quality and style will initially win over many drivers and, once behind the wheel, I bet many more will wonder why they hadn’t thought of driving one before.

DRIVER’S LOG

LIST PRICE (P11D): 37,515 [pounds sterling]

ENGINE: 2955cc V6 WT-i petrol

POWER: 201bhp @ 5600rpm

TORQUE: 283Nm @ 4500rpm

C[O.sub.2] RATING: 288g/km (35%)

2004/5 BIK: 13,130 [pounds sterling]

INSURANCE GROUP: 16E

AVERAGE MONTHLY RENTAL: 794 [pounds sterling] ex VAT

AVERAGE RESIDUAL VALUE: 12,682 [pounds sterling]

The offroad market continues to boom and with it comes an evermore bewildering choice of 4x4s that would confuse even the hardiest of men … and women. And for those of you already in despair, be warned that more new releases are on the horizon.

Not only did the launch of the Lexus RX300 in 1998 help to spawn what is known as the luxury sports utility segment, but the model itself sold more than 500,000 units worldwide. Last year the Toyota-owned company launched the latest version which, it claims, has made a “quantum leap in safety, driving dynamics and refinement.”

I had to find out for myself whether these claims were true–especially as Lexus hopes to sell 4000 RX300s in the UK this year.

From the outside I would have to say that the RX300 certainly exudes a sports feel. But luxury is something that is harder to convey by the mere presence of metal and rubber. Not that there is anything wrong with the RX300’s styling. Its haunched look and aerodynamic lines have helped improve its top speed from 112mph to 124mph.

Inside there’s plenty for the luxury seeker to get excited about including heated leather seats with electric adjustment controls. The centre console is packed with switches to play with and also features a monitor for the reversing camera.

A high seating position gives excellent visibility and rear passenger space is good too thanks to the 100mm longer wheelbase.

The 3.0-litre has an increased capacity of 201bhp while a new five speed automatic transmission with sequential gearchange gives a smooth performance. And the torque distribution between the front and rear axles is now controlled electronically by the traction control system instead of the mechanical control of the outgoing model.

If you want a luxury offroader with a sporty look, then you really have to take a peek at the RX300. I’m sure that its overall quality and style will initially win over many drivers and, once behind the wheel, I bet many more will wonder why they hadn’t thought of driving one before.

DRIVER’S LOG

LIST PRICE (P11D): 37,515 [pounds sterling]

ENGINE: 2955cc V6 WT-i petrol

POWER: 201bhp @ 5600rpm

TORQUE: 283Nm @ 4500rpm

C[O.sub.2] RATING: 288g/km (35%)

2004/5 BIK: 13,130 [pounds sterling]

INSURANCE GROUP: 16E

AVERAGE MONTHLY RENTAL: 794 [pounds sterling] ex VAT

AVERAGE RESIDUAL VALUE: 12,682 [pounds sterling]

COPYRIGHT 2004 DMG World Media Ltd.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group